February 04 2011
Lucia van der Post
Part of the joy of travelling lies in rummaging around in foreign markets, slipping into workshops down dusty alleyways, tracking down the sort of special, one-off things that you don’t find in every high street. But we can’t be everywhere. So Boticca is an online boutique that has done the travelling for us and aims to give its customers the very same thrills, but in cyberspace. Boticca’s founders, Kiyan Foroughi and Avid Larizadeh, two French Iranians, have tracked down the works of more than 160 designers in over 40 countries and brought them together on one website.
Now in some ways this is nothing new. There are countless online boutiques selling jewellery, scarves and handbags, which for the moment is chiefly what Boticca is offering, but, trust me, here are some very special things.
Take scarves. At Boticca you’ll find ravishing numbers that scarcely anybody will have seen anywhere. There are at least two scarf designers whose wares are irresistible. Lucy Jay does gorgeously colourful ones with an array of images, from £95 to £120. Helen Ruth’s are just as colourful, inspired by childhood myth and fantasy – her Secret Garden is a riot of brilliantly hued flowers and winged lions, while her Titania design has a magical woodland scene (each is in silk twill and costs £130). Her Flower Show (third picture), on wool twill, is another festival of floral colour (£155).
Krista R’s embroidered accessories are quite simply delicious – delicate combinations of lace, embroidery and fabric, all made from antique textiles and influenced by grand costume ball gowns. Wrap her Summer Memoirs (first picture, £154.50) round a plain white cotton dress (come the summer, obviously) and you have a show-stopper. Her embroidered collars, a cross between a piece of jewellery and a scarf, range in price from £76 for Sasha (a crocheted lace collar) to £251 for Belle Marie, a truly exquisitely worked neckpiece.
Then there’s jewellery, the largest category and well worth a good trawl. There are some gorgeous plum-coloured earrings with bronze crystals for just £51 (from Bohemia Jewellery), and Arata Fuchi’s silver, gold foil and pearl jellyfish ring (£389) is fabulous, while Sari Glassman’s lampwork bead necklace, Gray Atmosphere (second picture, £141), is a winner. There are also some terrific handbags – I like particularly Steven Harkin’s beautifully simple shoulder bags (£135).
New categories and designers are being added as I write. But, above all, what Boticca’s founders want is to convey a sense of the inspiration behind each design and to restore the sense of joy in discovering beautiful things.